Frank Proffitt

Frank Proffitt

Frank Proffitt Photograph, 1940(?) Frank and Anne Warner Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Rose Connolly, performed by Frank Proffitt on July 24, 1939

Beau Lamkins, perfomed by Frank Proffitt on July 24, 1939

Black Jack Davy, performed by Frank Proffitt on July 24, 1939

Our Goodman (also called "Cabbage Head" by Terry McKinney), performed by Frank Proffitt on July 24, 1939

Frank Noah Proffitt was born on June 1, 1913, in Laurel Bloomery, TN. His parents, William Wiley Proffitt and Rebecca Alice Creed Proffitt, moved their small family to Western North Carolina when Frank was young and settled in Beaver Dam Township (Watauga County), where William labored as a tenant farmer and tinker and Rebecca kept house. Young Frank learned to play the guitar and sing from his father, who he would later credit with teaching him “Tom Dooley” (famously recorded by the Kingston Trio in 1958), and his father’s Aunt, Nancy Prather, who gave Frank many of the songs he would later record for Frank Clyde Brown and others.

In 193?, Frank married Bessie Mae Hicks, the oldest daughter of Nathan Hicks, who owned a small farm on Beech Mountain and supplemented his income as a craftsman, building handmade, wooden dulcimers that attracted customers as far away as New York City. It was through the Hicks family that Frank Proffitt met Frank Clyde Brown, and on July 24th, 1939, Proffitt and his young son, Oliver, recorded nine songs and two tales for Brown, that included "Barbara Allen," “Rose Connolly,” “Beau Lamkins,” and “Black Jack Davy.”

*Once we figure out the standard length/format for these pages, we should also mention 1.) Proffitt’s relationship with the Warners, 2.) Additional information re. Tom Dooley and the lawsuit, 3.) Proffitt giving up singing/farming to join the TVA to provide for his family; 4.) Proffitt’s later “career” on the folk circuit, 5.) Proffitt’s legacy and where people can find additional recordings.